In today’s 24/7 world, those of us leading change know there is much ‘angst’ about how to achieve work-life balance. I am of the mind that it no longer exists. The days of going to work from 9am-5pm and then having a life outside of those hours are long gone. The advent of the internet and mobile devices brought with them many changes, and the reality of a never-ending workday. In Asia the code is: “Asia from 7am-6pm, Europe from 6pm-1am, East Coast of USA from 9pm-5am and west coast of USA from 11pm till 7am. And then you can start all over again. The paradigm has shifted and there is no going back.
So where does this leave us and what tools do we have for leading change, and changing mindsets. Rather than striving to vitalize a practice that worked in a different paradigm, we need to be asking a different set of questions that are appropriate to the 24/7 world we live in. “What am I committed to in my life and work?” “What is the company, my family, my community, and my friends counting on me for?” “How do I keep myself fit and well?” The critical question is; “How do I schedule myself to fulfill all of my commitments?
Successful global companies understand that elevated performance requires virtual teams in different time zones, some more than 15 hours apart. This often means early morning and late night conference calls. Coupled with a ‘regular’ work schedule of 8:30am-5:30pm, people soon realize that they are actually working 6am-midnight or later each day and there is no respite. This is clearly not a formula for sustainable success, and requires a commitment to leading change, and developing new practices.
What is today’s paradigm for success?
- An appreciation that employees have important commitments outside of work. At Insigniam, “we promise that along with being one of the best places to work, we will not sacrifice well-being for results and that our work in the company will be related to in the context of our lives. ©”
- A flexible work schedule, and flexibility with regard to the physical location of where work gets done. This can mean changing how teams organize themselves. Not all experiments have been successful. Committed to leading change, Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, recently ended the practice of employees working from home when she evaluated the impact on business results.
Failures are the access to success so what are the keys to making a flexible work schedule successful?
- A clear and personalized understanding of the Mission, Vision, Values and key strategic objectives of the company.
- Each person understanding how their work and leadership are critical for success, knowing how to get what they need, retiring old habits, and instituting new practices to enable success.
- The practice of ‘independent responsibility’ and accountability; being reliable to deliver what the company is counting on.
- Clear decision-making rights, and the process for making decisions.
- Clarity of the results that are expected from individuals and teams, and the timeframes those results will be delivered.
Ultimately, leading change takes a commitment to the discipline of calendaring, and then honoring the times scheduled in the calendar, whether it be for writing a report, an important team conference call, or our child’s sport’s competition. Work-life balance is dead. Effectively scheduling and honoring our commitments is the new reality. Leading change takes something extra, but the rewards are many: elevated performance, satisfaction, accomplishment and peace of mind.